“The Really Big One” by Kathryn Shulz

Published in The New Yorker, July 20, 2015

  1. List the major cities in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. How many people live in this region?
  1. What are the two continental plates that converge in Cascadia?
  1. Shulz eloquently sums the American experience in Cascadia as: “the Pacific Northwest was not a quiet place but a place in a long period of quiet.” Please explain this.
  1. What is a ‘ghost forest’? When did the ghost forest in Cascadia assume their ‘apparitional’ form?

5. What is dendrochronology and how does it help us to understand the seismic history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone?

  1. How is the eastern shoreline of Japan important in helping us understand the recurrence of earthquakes in Cascadia?
  1. How much time elapses between an earthquake in Cascadia and a tsunami in Japan?
  1. What is the recurrence interval for major earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone?
  1. Shulz says “The devastation in Japan in 2011 was the result of a discrepancy between what the best science predicted and what the region was prepared to withstand.”This statement is the very heart of the article. Is her argument persuasive? Why or why not?
  1. Describe your emotional reaction to the forecasted impacts to people in the Pacific Northwest following a major seismic event.
  1. Though not explained well in the article, what is the inundation zone?
  1. How much time elapses between a major earthquake and the tsunami in Cascadia?
  1. Recall discussions in class (or Google sleuth). What is FEMA? In your opinion, do you perceive the services provided by FEMA to be an essential function of the Federal government?
  1. When referring to Hollywood, Shulz posits that “apocalyptic visions are a form of escapism, not a moral summons, and still less a plan of action. Where we stumble is in conjuring up grim futures in a way that helps to avert them.” Is this article effective in stirring momentum for earthquake preparedness? Why or why not?
  1. If movies and magazine articles are ineffective as a moral summons in averting undesirable societal outcomes to natural disasters, then which institutions are best suited to convey scientific information in a way that will leverage political and economic resources to protect people and economies from catastrophe?